Turkish Foreign Minister says Israel's security needs don't justify Gaza invasion

Hakan Fidan is in Jordan, which has also taken a tough line against Israel

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan described Israeli actions in Gaza as 'nothing but expansion and occupation'. Reuters
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Turkey rejects Israel's justification of its invasion of Gaza on security grounds, its Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in Jordan on Thursday, as the two countries took a tough line against Israeli actions in the war.

Jordan and Turkey sought an immediate ceasefire as members of the Gaza contact group, formed in November by the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation representatives. The group visited western capitals in an early effort to stop the war.

"It is not acceptable at all for Israel to justify its attacks on Palestine on security grounds," Mr Fidan said after meeting Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi in Amman.

"What Israel is doing ... is nothing but expansion and occupation.

"It is not Israel's security that is being threatened. Those who are threatened are the Palestinians and the [other] countries in the region."

Any solution to the war that addresses "solely Israel's security [demands] and ignores the security threat that the Palestinians face [will] bring war, not peace to the region", he said through an Arabic interpreter.

Israel said it launched the war to eliminate Hamas after the militant group launched an attack on Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 240.

Israel responded with aerial bombardments and a land invasion of Gaza that have killed more than 24,000 people, according to Palestinian health officials, who have not said how many of the dead were combatants.

Mr Fidan will also meet King Abdullah II on a two-day visit to Amman and discuss “the situation in Palestine”, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

Ties between Turkey and Jordan have been cool for the past two decades, with differences over regional issues and unease in Amman over Ankara’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey is among the most well-connected regional players with Hamas, an Iranian-backed offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Since October 7, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described Israel several times as a “terror state” and defended Hamas as “liberators”, while Jordanian officials have warned that extremists in Israel could cause the war to spread across the region.

But Jordan and Turkey have differed on other issues.

In recent years, Jordan has supported diplomatic moves by Greece and Cyprus to counter what the two Mediterranean countries regard as threatening Turkish actions off their shores.

In 2021, as relations worsened between Turkey and the US, Jordan signed a military pact with Washington, enhancing the kingdom's position as a base for US troops.

But Mr Safadi has visited Ankara twice in the past two years in an effort to mend ties and the countries' joint diplomatic work on Gaza has contributed to improvement in relations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made stops in both countries during a tour of the region last week.

Regional sources said Mr Blinken sought to secure financial support from Gulf Arab states for the reconstruction of Gaza and discussed the possible participation of Turkey in a multinational force to be deployed in Gaza after the war.

On Thursday, Mr Safadi repeated Jordan's calls for Israel to allow the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians in Gaza to return to their homes.

Earlier this week, he said any postwar plans for Gaza must be based on “rejection of any security role for Israel in Gaza or any Israeli presence” in the area.

Mr Safadi said any approaches to shape the future of Gaza must be preceded by international pressure to stop Israel's attacks on the enclave.

Updated: January 18, 2024, 2:20 PM